I arrived a thursday evening, 16/3 1995, and started by paying customs
for some company material I was carrying. I spent all the money I
had, but I needed som more from the guys waiting to pick me up.
Julian D, from the office, drove me to an apartment, gave me the
keys and said he would pick me up at 7.30 next morning. Luckyly I
had my alarm clock with me. It is a nice apartment. Top floor with
a two bedrooms and a study. That means that there is an extra room
for anybody passign by. Furthermore, a living room, smallish
kitchen, and a very small room with laundry mashine.
I slept well. That is however not always so since Bogota is
situated over 2600 meters above see level. The air is thinner and
after about six months you should be accustomed. However, the air
is not so clean and it is good that the rain comes everynow and
then to clean the air.
I noticed the thin air when I opened my after shave lotion
bottle and the air slipt out.... Also, when you pour a glass of
beer, the foam starts building very fast and much more than I am
used to. The beer is good though.
I was picked up at 7.30 on my first day and we went to work. I
have been very busy trying to remember streets and places, which
is tiresome. To give a little idea about what it is like, I will
describe how to arrive to the office with a car.
You give a white card to a guard, who gives you a similar card,
but blue, back,while another guard is looking under the car with
a mirror. You park in the designated place and head for the
elevator. The elvator only runs between the parking floors and
ground floor. It is operated by a guard or a girl sitting on a
chair pushing the buttons. I cross the ground floor inside the
entrance. Other people arriving by foot, are screen and
identified or given a guest card. Remember, this is not an
I press the button for floor one and luckily, like in china,
their is a button for *closing* the doors as well.
Arriving from the elevator there is a glass door, with a
reception lady inside. You need a card for that, which I havent
received yet. I smile and look lost and the she or he opens the
door. Then there is a door to her immidiate left which she also
opens for me. I have arrived to my office.
At first I felt a little trapped, but it disappears quickly.
The floor is organised by big screens, to create small open
offices. The screen are so that only tall swedes are able to look
above and beyond them.
During my first friday, I received a car, an office, a computer
and some money. If it seems organised, forget it. I believe it
was only through hard work (and mostly luck) I got installed like
The next day, my first weekend, I woke up earlish. I had a car,
some money and a place to stay. Now all I needed was some food!
When I arrived on thursday we saw a shopping place fore food. It
was in Calle, street, 85. I found it and it is really good. It is
like ICA but with a larger fruit and vegetables area.
Well, by now the basic needs where fulfilled.
I had a small look around the neighbor*hood* to see what is was
like. I did not dare making larger excursions. I read The firm
the rest of the day. I tried to whatch TV but it is difficult to
following the dialogue in the awful telenovelas or TV/series they
I called Julian D from the office, and he invited me for sunday.
I managed to drive to his house with a map and a compass. He and
his wife Gloria with the two children have worked in Sweden and
can speak swedish. We did however try to only speak spanish.
Their children, 10 and 7, go to a english speaking school and are
excellent in english. They had lots of fun teasing me. We all went
to have paella at a local restaurant and also went shopping. It
was a nice day and I came home at around 9.
About sickness. Although I have a health card whitch guarantees
me a hospital if needed, I was recommended to join some
localsystem. I hope I am covered now.
The water in Colombia is not healthy, at least that is what I
have been told. In Bogota however they say it is no problem...
So I shower, wash the dishes, brush my teeth in the local water.
I make food and tea with pure water, agua pura. I hope that is ok!
I have been asking around trying to understand the Colombians.
They are very friendly, happy and they love to party and dance.
Maybe it is a protection, because if they did not enjoy
themselves, they would feel miserable about the situation, with
the traffic and the violence.
Last weekend I went out with some friends from work to a
popular place down town, zona rosa. e had really fun, drinking
beer and dancing salsa and merengue. The best beer is called club
colombia, but there is a new and popular one called Leona. It is
suppoesed to be sweater....
About the dancing. It is like the language. I am still learning.
I drive the Carrera 7 or septima from work and turn of at street
74 where my building is. it takes about 15 minutes or up to 60
depending on the traffic.
I drive up the small entrance and wait. The portero opens the
garage door and I drive in to my parking place. There are two guys
working 12 hours shifts only to open the garage or the front door
all day and night. The house is a brick building, really nice, not
older than a couple of years, I think. I take the left elevator to
the eights or top floor, which is an even number. The other
elevator only goes to uneven floors. Even the elevators are nice
with nice touch buttons. My room number is 801. I open the top
lock first and then door handle with a nother key. The door cannot
be opend without a key. I am home.
When I got home on from work on friday 17th I noticed something
very strange. My bed was made and the dishes had been cleaned.
My dirty clothes, which I carefully placed on the floor in the
bedroom, were gone and I found them on the washing mashine.
All my luggage had been rearranged and placed in one of the rooms.
It looked really neat. I thought, this is great, someone is
cleaning my flat and fixing things. I did not know if it was
temporary or on a permanent basis. I decided to test a little the
limits to this service.
I bought some washing powder, I saw on the
commercials on the TV during the weekend. And on monday my washing
was done, when I came back. I even found some shirts ironed! I
have know, through arefully investigation found out that the
service provided is included and she is called Sandra. I have
never seen her. I only have to leave a note if their is anything I
want. I will tell her to take some fruit if she wants. My next
major project is to get cable TV with english speaking programs.
I am already sick and tired of the three Columbian programs.
Actually, I have to work sometimes as well. This is only slowly
starting as I have to arrange bank connections, identity cards,
say hello to everyone, meetings, checking on the lift with my
private things, which have not arrived yet. I am sending a
private lift and also soem things from my office. The import
responsible, did not belive I could receive the office part
separate. So it was only in the very last minute I stopped the
lift and Ericsson send the material to the transport guys and it
has now left Sweden...
I am assistent to the Project responsible in Colombia. He and my
12 collegues receives contracts and handles them together with
the customer. With the reorganisation, Colombia is not supported
anymore by a department in Sweden. That means that we shall
handle all the contacts with ordering and factories, forecast,
shipments etc directly with Sweden. My job is to organize the
work according to established project handling methods as well as
teach them how to communicate with Sweden.
I will first learn about what and how they are doing now, before
recommending changes. I hope I am able to learn spanish well
enough during that period.
The weather suits me perfect. It is mostly half sunny half cloudy.
The temperature is just above 20 to 28, depending on the clouds.
In the evenings it gets colder and at 20.00 it could be between 12
to 16 degrees. It will start raining a lot in april... The best
months are december and january when it is hotter..
All in all, I think there is a great chance I might like it here for a
My address: Calle 74, No 5 - 19, Apto. 801, Bogota, Colombia
Telephone home 57 1 345 0881,
office 57 1 288 6800 / 387 (tres,ocho,siete) or
fax 57 1 287 84 82
Everybody is welcome to drop by. Just give me a ring or a beep.
The very best